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Prowein 2015: Roger Jones says Auf Wiedersehen with his highlights from Dusseldorf

Published:  18 March, 2015

Roger Jones takes us around the wine world on his Prowien 2015 journey of discovery, where he explores some new and interesting wines.

An early morning foray into the German Pavilions, certainly woke up the senses as I had to pass through the Spirits Pavilion with a showcase of scantily dressed ladies in very fetching leather cat suits and Heidi type uniforms promoting numerous sprits, my favourite would be the Dictador Rum.

Germany continues to shine with an array of exciting wines, the opportunity to taste such a range of quality German wines here is exceptional, something that we miss out too often in the UK. It was a delight to brighten up the palate with an array of refreshing regional wines on the Wines of Germany stand. Stand out wines included a Silvaner from Grohl, from the 2013 vintage, clean precise, but full of textured flavours, delicate spices throughout, refreshingly bright and this would be perfect with diver caught shellfish.

Its great to see grape verities such as Sauvignon Blanc shine from Germany and I thoroughly enjoyed Weingut Jesuitenhof's 2014 Sauvignon Blanc trocken. More Loire than New World of course, richly textured and layered with long concentrated flavours of fresh/raw asparagus with extra virgin olive oil, hints of gooseberries, bright and clean.

Out of the glut of classy Rieslings my favourite on the stand was Weingut Künstler's 2014 Hochheimer Herrnberg. Beautifully layered, full rich lingering textured wine with precise clean ripe fruit, incredible fresh white peaches, full flavoured but underlined by a classy dry fresh balance.

Going back over other highlights of the three days I must mention South Africa's stand which was very innovative with a daily selection of wines shown in groups, from grape varieties to award winning to limited release which certainly focused people to the quality of wines that South Africa now produces. Again it was pleasing to see and try so many wines that I had missed on my two trips to South Africa in the last year. It is a shame that we will not see such a focus of winemakers visiting the UK this year from South Africa to wave their flag.

South Africa Highlights included:

Houmoed Bush Vine Chenin Blanc from Mooiplass, 2013, I appreciate that banana can be a fault in Chenin but this had an amazing delicate banana ice cream nuances that worked due to the lovely acidity at the end, stunningly luxurious, hints of ginger and spice, honeyed and savoury finish. I thought that I had tasted the best Chenin's in South Africa, but then another star turns up. 

The Cape Winemakers Guild; "Sophia" 2011 made by Gary Jordan is a splendid Cabernet in the similar vein to Vanya Cullen's Cabernet from Australia.

The Boschendal Cecil John Reserve Shiraz 2012 is a beautiful stunning luxurious rich, lingering long seductive wine that whilst drinking well now will be a great one to age. Perfectly seamless, bright intense fruits but restrained like a thoroughbred horse.

The Thokozani CCV 2012 is an unwooded blend of Chenin, Chardonnay and viognier. Based in Wellington under the ownership of a group of investors including Diemersfontein employees. Citrus and fresh, creamy and textured from extended lees ageing very pleasant refreshing easy drinking wine.

Three days in and I had yet to forage and blunder the Wine Australia Stand! As a long-term disciple of Australian wines it was pleasing to see so many new (to me) wineries on the Australian stand.

Australia Highlights included:

Of the whites the GATT 2010 is a Riesling that shows how good this grape variety is from Australia and with five years age delivers a wine of such exceptional standard. GATT based in the High Eden in the Barossa is searching for a UK importer despite winning numerous awards for both their Riesling and their reds, the 09 GATT Cabernet is sublime and drinking so well currently.

Cameron Ashmead at Elderton in the Barossa has developed a new range of wines away from their original Nuriootpa family site. I tried the Greenock site wines, which are a collection of wines focused on sub regional diversity. Greenock Two (2013) has Grenache, Mourvedre and Shiraz, this is the second release and the wine delivers a great balance between earthiness, black pepper, blueberries and a gently roundness to the finish. Top of the class is the Elderton Western Ridge 2013, this is again their second release of their 'Reserve' Grenache blend, this is all about finesse not a fruit bomb, stunningly textured, soft perfumes and delicacy, no visit to Elderton would be complete without a glass of his majestical Command Shiraz, the 2010 being their 25th release.

Ben Glaetzer, together with his dad Colin were the guys who got me into Australian Shiraz many moons ago, and his range of wines from the 2013 vintage are perfectly balanced, the Bishop I would happily drink now, whilst the Anaperenna with 16% Cabernet is a seamless fusion, delicate nose of liquorice, aniseed and blackcurrant, the Amon-Ra will of course benefit from another decade of ageing, but as I have a library stock of his Amon-Ra back to 2002 I am in no hurry. What Ben is trying to and succeeds in achieving is balancing the fruit and tannin extraction, not maximising it. The preservation of the fruit expression is key; the characters of the vineyard should prevail but not dominate.  

New to me was Angove, and as this was my last tipple prior to jumping in a cab to the airport, I hardly had time to do the wine justice but was mightily impressed with The Medhyk Shiraz, lauded to me as the best Shiraz I would try at the show, the jury is still out on that, but this was a stunner, succulent, luxuriously luscious, layers of different textures and flavours, brilliant precise small berry fruit, dancing on the palate.

Sitting on this evening's EasyJet red eye flight back to London, again filled with the wine trade, the trolley girls are having a very quiet day, with no requests for any alcohol, snoring is louder than the engines, which either means the traders had a busy time selling or a good time had been had by all in the bars and restaurants of Düsseldorf over the last few nights. The complimentary frankfurters in the airport lounge were my only taste of German food on the trip, due to the excellent Japanese and Turkish restaurants in town.

Despite the lack of toilets (one winemaker said that the toilets reminded him of Glastonbury) the high charges for internet access on site, and the entrance charges, Prowein is a must on the yearly calendar, it brings the wine community together and provides a fascinating forum to learn and taste about new wines, and of course provide a platform for numerous business opportunities. Three days, even if it was five days, would not be enough, but you can have too much of a good thing, and few budgets could cover the extra nights exorbitant hotel room charges.

Thank you Prowein for the experience, for me its back to the day job cooking Michelin Star food, and welcoming a few winemakers to The Harrow at Little Bedwyn over the next few days.